Big Apple Bites: National 9|11 Memorial

Posted on November 19, 2011

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Disclaimer: I’m not a native New Yorker, I’m actually a transplant.  If I live here any longer my roots are seriously going to start growing deep.  So, anticipating that I wont live here forever, I’ve decided to capture all the amazing experiences this Big Apple has to offer. So “Big Apple Bites” are short bites worth sharing on how New York City helps me learn, grow, appreciate and enjoy life.

I’ve asked many native New Yorkers the infamous question, “Where were you when the Twin Towers collapsed?”  And everyone has a picture perfect image they can paint with their words.  It’s one of those things you’ll never forget, similar to how the Baby Boomer generation will never forget where they were during the JFK assasination or Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech “I Have a Dream.”  It’s a date, an event, a period marking our generations true American History moment.

Just a couple months ago, the National September 11th Memorial opened to the public after 10 years of decisions, changes, and construction.  A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to visit the park with some dear friends.  In a crazy wild colorful city, it was striking to see such a wide open space, with the trees, and the calm sentiment of a memorial.  The space felt very out of place, like it didn’t belong in downtown.  The waterfalls crashing drowned any cab honking or ambulance passing by.  You could walk down Wall Street and see 20-story buildings for blocks at a time, but once you arrived to this flats square it was clear there stood an absence in the skyline.  Of course, this memorial is different than any other place downtown… it is afterall the resting place of thousands who died.

The architect of the winning design is Michael Arad.  He had the concept of the memorial long before the memorial opened its design competition.  He describes the abyss within the mirror pools as “voids” to reflect the absence of what we feel going forward.  It’s a metaphor and truth we all feel.  When you stand next to the mirror pools where the towers physically stood, you realize just how big, how massive these buildings were.  I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder what it must have looked like standing at the entrance and looking up to see no top.”  I can imagine a busy mid-week day with thousands of people coming in and out, busy with conference calls and racing to their next meeting.  I can imagine all the delivery bicycles lined up, not to mention rushed business men and women hailing a cab.  Now the remains lie as calm, solemn place, that was once an artery to the city of New York.  The Freedom Tower slowly propells upward… but it is no replacement for the essence TWC stood for.

It was a really honor to have had the opportunity to experience such a historical place.  Gliding , my fingers over the names, seeing roses placed on the edge, watching kids gaze with amazement of how pretty the park is… there is nothing else to describe what I felt, but ‘in complete awe’.  I’ve written about 9/11 a couple times, and it never fails… it’s a tear jerker.  We are but only lucky that life has more days in store for us, but how many no one knows.  For the thousands who rest in deep abyss of Michael Arad’s “voids,” we can only learn to never forget, and persevere ahead with the passion of trekking forward in the home of the brave.

After walking around and taking pictures, we did what any New Yorker would do… looked for a great restaurant!  So the gang concluded to Shanghai Cafe (in Chinatown) for Steamed Soup Dumplings.

It was a great evening and a memorable experience.

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